The Essential Homebirth Guide by Jane E. Drichta, Jodilyn Owen , and Christianne Northrup - Read Online
The Essential Homebirth Guide
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Birthing is a miraculous time when you and your baby will work together to bring about life. As you finally cradle your precious newborn in your arms, you should know deep in your soul that every decision that brought the two of you to this special moment was yours.

More families than ever are choosing to birth at home. Midwives Jane E. Drichta and Jodilyn Owen answer questions about the kind of care, support, and information you need as you investigate whether this option is right for you. Birth can be an empowering and positive experience, and this book provides gentle guidance, with high regard for your wisdom and ability to successfully navigate your prenatal care, birth, and early mothering.

Enriched with real birth stories from new mothers, The Essential Homebirth Guide offers thoughtful, compassionate advice on a wealth of birthing topics, including:

• Building a supportive homebirth community • Caring for yourself and your baby from your pregnancy through the postpartum period • Communicating about your birthing plans with your midwife, your partner, and your family and friends • Deciding whether homebirth is safe for you • Educating yourself about common pregnancy-related issues • Preparing your home and your family for the big day
Published: Gallery Books on
ISBN: 9781451668636
List price: $11.99
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Foreword by Christiane Northrup, MD, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom


A Note from the Authors

CHAPTER ONE: The Story of Homebirth

• The History of Homebirth

• Modern Homebirth

• The Anatomy of Homebirth Today

CHAPTER TWO: The Journey Begins

• You’re Pregnant!

• Choosing a Homebirth Provider and Establishing Care

• Prenatal Nutrition

CHAPTER THREE: Prenatal Care with a Homebirth Midwife: More Than Just the Numbers

• The Primary Goal of Prenatal Care: Establishing Individualized Norms

• Relationship Development

• Welcome to Your Prenatal Visit

CHAPTER FOUR: Midwifery Care, Homebirth, and the Mother’s Community

• Relationships

• Homebirth and Family

• From Co-workers to Strangers, Everyone Wants a Piece of Me!

• Keeping Calm and Cared For

CHAPTER FIVE: She Said, I Said, They Said—Communication

• Anatomy of a Discussion

• Informed Consent: Your Midwife Is Talking to You!

• The Birth Plan: Sharing Your Hopes and Plans with Your Midwife

• Because I Said So! Communicating with Your Family About Your Choice to Homebirth

CHAPTER SIX: Your Expanded Pregnancy and Birth Team

• Homebirth and Your Expanded Team

• Childbirth Education Classes

CHAPTER SEVEN: Special Circumstances

• Understanding Risk

• Twins and Homebirth

• Breech Babies and Homebirth

• Birth as a Sexual Abuse Survivor

• Teen Pregnancies

CHAPTER EIGHT: Homebirth After Cesarean

• Why HBAC?

• Is HBAC Safe?

• Finding an HBAC Midwife

• Finding Peer Support for HBAC

CHAPTER NINE: The Big Ten: Common Pregnancy-Related Issues

• The Emotional Experience of Pregnancy

• Anemia

• Vitamin D Deficiency

• Rhesus Factor (aka Rh Negative)

• Group Beta Strep (aka Group B Strep or GBS)

• Gestational Diabetes

• The Thyroid

I think I’m just plain getting sick. What can I do?

• Hypertensive Disorders

• Miscarriage

CHAPTER TEN: Labor and Birth at Home

• Preparing Your Home for the Birth

• Birth Kits

• Siblings at the birth or no siblings at the birth? That is the question!

• After the Due Date

• Labor and Birth

CHAPTER ELEVEN: The Postpartum Period

• Immediate Postpartum Care

• Skin-to-Skin

• Breastfeeding Your Baby

• What’s Next?

• Newborn Medications and Screening

• Postpartum Depression

CHAPTER TWELVE: The Story Continues

APPENDIX A: Questions to Ask During an Interview

APPENDIX B: Further Reading for the Homebirth Family

APPENDIX C: Resources for Childbirth Education and Support

APPENDIX D: Resources for Higher Risk Mamas with Homebirth Hearts

APPENDIX E: The Photos


About Jane E. Drichta and Jodilyn Owen



The only ones who truly know your story are the ones who helped you write it.


Dedicated with love to our families, who started us on this journey, sustained us as we walked, and rejoiced with us through it all.


by Christiane Northrup, MD,

author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom

GIVING BIRTH TRANSFORMS A woman at a cellular level. Laboring and birthing with your inner guidance and power fully intact has the potential to open wellsprings of wisdom within you that you hadn’t known existed. When I first witnessed a birth as a medical student, this power filled the room. And I nearly fell to my knees weeping at the beauty of it. And so, as a board-certified ob-gyn who has been at the forefront of holistic health for women for decades, and at the bedside of countless birthing women, I wanted to stand up and cheer for this book!

I was an ob-gyn resident when electronic fetal monitoring was introduced. And though fetal monitoring has never been scientifically shown to do anything except lead to more interventions, this unquestioned technology is now standard in all hospital births. The c-section rate after its introduction soared to 25 percent almost overnight. Though most of us thought that was too high at the time, the new U.S. rate of 30 to 50 percent of all births via c-section is simply unacceptable. Unfortunately, this same rate is now common in many countries besides the United States. I have been dismayed to see how quickly women have been willing to turn their power over to the system. But I also know how deeply ingrained the fear of childbirth is. And how adversely affected most women are by the media depiction of what is meant to be a natural and empowering process. It is no wonder that the maternal mortality rate has doubled in the United States in the last twenty years. No matter how good your intentions, you simply can’t fool with a natural process (birth) that much and expect Mother Nature to sit quietly by and not warn you!

But over the past few years, this inexorable tide of intervention has begun to change. Today’s women are claiming their birthing power in droves. (Many, like me, attempted this in the 1970s and ’80s, but the cultural support for doing so was not nearly as robust as it is now.) Today’s women, often with baby boomer mothers who were pioneers in the natural birth movement themselves, are bringing their bodies into alignment with their minds and their emotions. They are remembering that they have the innate ability to birth safely and joyfully. They are waking up to the fact that hospitals and the mind-sets that run them too often interfere with normal birth—despite the best intentions of the staff.

Individuals such as Ricki Lake, and her incredible film The Business of Being Born, and of course the legendary midwife Ina May Gaskin, whose safety record in birth is unparalleled, are part of this exciting movement toward full-scale female empowerment—which includes the wisdom of the body.

Deep in my soul, I have always been a midwife disguised as an MD. I know what it’s like to truly attend a birth—standing by while a woman goes deeply into herself to see what she is really capable of. And I have had two children of my own—both naturally without drugs or epidurals, though in a hospital. If I had it to do over again, I would birth at home. I would have done so then, except for the fact that there was so little support that I don’t know how I would have pulled it off and kept my standing in my profession. Today we have statistics that have proved, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that homebirth for low-risk women is as safe as birth in the hospital. And in many cases, even safer!

Into this fertile soil of new birth beginnings, Jane Drichta and Jodilyn Owen have brought what I consider the absolute bible of birth preparation. The Essential Homebirth Guide is for every pregnant woman—whether or not she plans to have a homebirth. This book lays out the ways in which the midwifery model is true partnership care—as opposed to the medical we will save you model, the one with the unfortunate side effect of a woman abdicating her power to an outer authority, thus forgetting her own. This guide reads like a trusted and skilled friend. Just check out the table of contents. It covers everything you need to know—from low iron to what to do if you are diagnosed with beta strep.

Most delightfully of all, this incredible manual gives you the tools that you need to access your inner birthing wisdom—and to truly trust yourself. The essence of self-esteem and personal power is self-trust. And the trust in your body that birthing provides will guide you for the rest of your life. And also, of course, provide an atmosphere of love and bonding for your new baby. The authors say it best: When mothers look back at their pregnancies and birth and feel that they were pivotal players at decision points, they feel filled with a positive and energetic power. That power is not in the method, geography, provider, or location of your care or birth. It is within you and comes forward as you take an active leading role in your care and birth. Midwifery care recognizes this, and our explanation of this kind of care gives you another great tool to take with you as you move forward.

Amen, sisters.


WELCOME! WE ARE SO pleased that you are investigating homebirth and that you have found this resource. More families than ever are making the intentional, educated decision to receive midwifery care and birth at home. As birth practitioners and educators, we have sat with hundreds of women as they searched their hearts to make informed decisions about their pregnancies and births. We know it can be an overwhelming experience to sift through and decipher all of the information available in a meaningful way.

While each pregnancy and birth is unique, we tend to hear the same questions over and over again. We have answered these questions in a variety of ways over the years—through lists of good Web sites or books, prewritten e-mails, pamphlets, and handouts. We’ve created and participated in online groups for homebirth families to ask and answer each other’s questions. We’ve considered walking around Seattle with sandwich boards and megaphones, or hiring a plane to skywrite some of the answers. These methods evolved over the years but our goal was always to get quality information into parents’ hands.

It has been our privilege to work with mothers and fathers who are seeking knowledge, partners in care, and healthy, meaningful pregnancy and birth experiences. We are thrilled to offer you this resource, so that you can now open one book and find plenty of information delivered through the lens of trust in birth, mothers, babies, and families.

We know that as expecting parents, you are trying to find your way through a sea of information, research, and opinion. This book is full of all three. Our goal is not to persuade you to choose the midwifery model of care or a homebirth. Our goal is not to rescue you or save you or have you crying out after your birth, I couldn’t have done it without you! Our goal is to open your range of experience and exposure, so that when you make decisions regarding where and how to birth, you will be making truly informed ones. We consider ourselves guides on one path open to expectant mothers and their families. Take a look around, ask questions, and enjoy the view.

There is an abundance of material available about hospital-based prenatal care and birthing. Read it, digest it. Read this book and others about out-of-hospital birth. Talk to your partner and people you trust. There is no one hard-and-fast way to figure out the best kind of care for your pregnancy or birth. Where you start may not be where you end, and your process may lead you through several providers before you find the perfect match.

After years of working with hundreds of women, we can say emphatically that there is one character trait that we have seen lead to success in birthing: flexibility. Flexibility leads to the kind of success that is priceless and immeasurable. Some people define a good birth in simple terms: physically healthy mother and physically healthy baby. We certainly believe in healthy mothers and babies, but it also runs much deeper than that. As you cradle your newborn in your arms, you should know deep in your soul that all of the thousands of decisions you made to get to this moment were yours. Knowing the depth of that truth, you can work backward. What kind of care, what kind of support team, and what kind of information do you need so that you can reach that moment?

When mothers look back at their pregnancies and birth and feel that they were pivotal players at decision points, they feel filled with a positive and energetic power. That power is not in the method, geography, provider, or location of your care or birth. It is within you and comes forward as you take an active leading role in your care and birth. Midwifery care recognizes this, and our explanation of this kind of care gives you another great tool to take with you as you move forward.

You are on a journey to birth your baby: a child of your family, a member of society, a whole human being who will contribute to our world. We hope this journey is steeped in knowledge and self-awareness as you come into your mother-self. This book is all about how capable, healthy, and strong mothers and babies can be when they work together.

We have called upon the wisdom of the midwives who came before us, our teachers and mentors, our colleagues, the families we have worked with, and the researchers and scientists of our time to address the issues that current-day families are facing when it comes to prenatal care and birth. Through sharing these experiences and insights, we hope to see more mothers in the moments after birth gazing into their newborn’s eyes and crying out, We did it!

A Note from the Authors

WORKING TOGETHER IS WHAT this book is all about. Babies do best when they are birthed into strong, intentional families, and these families can take many forms. We have had the privilege to work with so many families and individuals over the years: married, partnered, single parents, adopting parents, straight, gay, or polyamorous. While we try to use language that reflects this, oftentimes we revert to the traditional mother/father dyad. Please know that this is purely for semantic reasons, and does not reflect how we practice. Similarly, we know several wonderful male midwives and doulas. But rather than use the cumbersome she/he construction, we have defaulted to female.

What you won’t find in this book are chapters and chapters of high-risk care solutions. We have written this book to meet the needs of homebirthing women, and these women are by definition low risk. We do detail common conditions that you may encounter, but none of them will automatically rule you out of a homebirth. There are plenty of resources out there for families who face serious medical challenges, and we encourage you to take advantage of them if the need arises. If you risk out of homebirth and require extensive testing, treatment, or bed rest, we encourage you to check out Appendix D: Resources for Higher Risk Mamas with Homebirth Hearts.

We also do not go into great detail about each individual test you may be offered. Each midwife has her own set of laboratory work that she routinely orders, and will go over the tests with you as the need arises. New ones are developed all the time. Technology marches on!

And finally, we are so grateful to the dozens of women and families who have shared their stories with us. We have almost exclusively changed the names to protect the privacy of the families and providers who worked with them and in some cases where we had several similar stories, we consolidated them to illustrate a certain topic or idea.


The Story of Homebirth

• The history of homebirth

• Modern homebirth

• The anatomy of homebirth today


The day before Evelyn’s birth, I walked several miles around our small town by the ocean. The leaves were fallen and crisp on the sidewalk. The wind was strong, and pressed my jacket onto my heavy belly. I remember literally gasping at the beauty of that day, that walk, that moment in time: the red leaves of a Japanese maple against the blue autumn sky, the woolly backs of sheep in a field, the smell of wood smoke in the air. There is something about the end of pregnancy that opens a woman to the earth, the universe. Perhaps it is standing at the edge, waiting, waiting for one to become two.


The History of Homebirth

ALL THE BEST STORIES start with Once upon a time, and this one is no exception. Scarcely longer than a breath, this phrase takes us outside our regular, everyday existence and places us squarely in the middle of Somewhere Else. This Somewhere can be real or imaginary, familiar or foreign; it doesn’t matter in the least. For stories deal in truth, and our hearts recognize and respond readily to truth. It is a consequence of being human, and one of our greatest strengths. Well, that and birthing our babies.

Like babies, stories come by us, and through us. Both are supreme acts of creation and creativity. This story, The Tale of Western Homebirth Midwifery, is filled with contention and controversy, politics and death. It’s a thriller, to be sure, and it doesn’t even have an ending yet. Some of its major characters probably haven’t even been born. It is a grand story, epic in scope, and every family who makes the choice to birth at home has a role in it.

Once upon a time, there was a midwife named Bridget Lee Fuller. She has the distinction of being the first European midwife in the New World. She sailed on the Mayflower, where she assisted with the births of two pregnant women on board. Mrs. Fuller later settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where, in exchange for her work, she received a house and a generous stipend from the town. This is hardly the stereotypical persecuted witch midwife of lore. In fact, there is ample evidence that at the beginning of the colonial period, midwives were respected members of society and were highly esteemed.

These women were usually not formally trained, although the earliest English colonists most likely included some educated women. (There were midwifery licensing procedures in England as early as the seventeenth century, authorized by the Church, forbidding witchcraft, and encouraging the midwife to tend the poor.) These early midwives relied heavily on folk remedies, herbal preparations, and experience. Women could expect ergot for labor pain, or belladonna to prevent a threatened miscarriage. And they seemed to have remarkably good outcomes. Contrary to popular belief, the leading cause of death for colonial women was not childbirth, but disease.¹

Martha Ballard, a midwife working in rural Maine between 1785 and 1812, left a detailed diary of her midwifery exploits and daily life. For twenty-seven years, she faithfully recorded visits to and from her neighbors, the weather, and the other minutiae that make up an ordinary life. (For more information on Martha Ballard, please read A Midwife’s Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.) Over the course of her career, she recorded one maternal death for every 198 live births, about .5 percent.² Around 1930, when about half of the births in America took place in the hospital, the maternal death rate was about .7 percent and the infant death rate was 1.9 percent. Ballard’s infant mortality rate was similarly low, about 1.8 percent.

So how did the community midwife go from being a valued professional to being seen as a dangerously uneducated witch, suitable for attending only the most disenfranchised members of society?

Midwifery is one of a handful of professions that combines hand work, head work, and heart work. As such, it can be difficult to understand from the outside. Being able to stop a woman from bleeding to death or help a baby start breathing are easily measurable skills. If the midwife does them correctly, the baby and mother live. If she does not, they die or suffer lasting repercussions.

It was the other two legs of the proverbial birthing stool, the work of the head and the heart that sometimes led to trouble. Women were largely denied formal education in these early days, and sometimes seemed (to their male counterparts) to have too much knowledge—if such a thing is possible. They did their work mostly at night, with very few people around, using gifts from the earth herself: the herbs and native plants of the surrounding countryside. Their work was warm and moist, dark and internal, quiet and secret. This powerful feminine archetype was very threatening in a patriarchal society, which generally accepted that power, morality, and wisdom flowed from God to kings to noblemen and then spread to the rest of society. How could these midwives, these women, be privy to the literal secrets of life and death? What was going on? If this knowledge didn’t come from God—and it obviously had not, as it had clearly bypassed the kings and noblemen—then it must have come from the devil.

Along with this apparent supernatural collaboration, midwives were also beginning to have other problems by the early nineteenth century, this time technological and economic in nature. Two hundred years earlier, the Chamberlain family invented the obstetrical forceps.³ (Perhaps it is better to say that they improved on an ancient design, and began to use them frequently. Crude versions had been used by eleventh-century Arabian doctors.⁴) The Chamberlains kept their design secret from other doctors of the time, presumably so that they could have a monopoly in the market, but eventually word leaked out. More and more doctors began using these instruments, improving on their design, and publicizing their results.

As the use of forceps increased, maternal mortality rates improved drastically enough that William Leishman, writing in 1873, referred to the forceps as, The Great Prime Mover of Obstetrics. . . . It is scarcely possible to exaggerate the importance of this instrument, which is simple in construction, easy of application, and marvelous in power.⁵ As the years went by, infant mortality rates began to fall as doctors became more skilled in their use.

So where were the midwives during this period? Well, they certainly were not in lecture halls or medical school. They were doing what they had always done, catching babies. However, they were doing it without the benefit of this new technology, and they were doing it in people’s homes, not in the newly opened obstetrical wards. It was becoming a status symbol to deliver with a doctor, with his instruments and, by 1847, chloroform for anesthesia. On April 7 of that year, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s wife, Fanny, became the first woman to inhale the gas during childbirth.⁶ Her labor lasted five and a half hours, and she was apparently very satisfied with the experiment. Between her experience and that of Queen Victoria birthing with the drug in 1853, childbirth, at least for the famous and well-to-do, was rapidly becoming a spectator sport, something others did to you, rather than something needing any direct participation from the mother. By the advent of the Industrial Revolution, in both England and America, the upper classes saw the traditional midwife as dirty, uneducated, and thoroughly unmodern.

This attitude persisted through most of the twentieth century. Technology continued to advance, with vacuum extractors and epidurals, and the once-always-fatal cesarean section worked its way toward being the most common surgical procedure performed in the United States. Early feminists applauded the routine use of spinal anesthesia, claiming it was their right to birth without pain. And the American homebirth midwife faded further and further into the background.

Our country’s history of midwifery largely rests with the granny midwives who practiced in America from the early 1700s through the late 1800s. They were predominantly African-American women, and functioned as birth attendants and healers. The stewardship of this important community role was often passed down matrilineally, with long apprenticeships that only ended when the senior midwife retired or passed away. As the medical establishment grew in their practice of obstetrics and nurse-midwifery, granny midwives became the target of social and professional persecution. Just as the obstetricians feared the white midwives’ knowledge and abilities, so too with the granny midwives. Physicians lobbied for restrictive legislation against granny midwives and drove this culture underground and eventually to extinction. Prior to this time African-American women, like women in so many cultures around the world, held positions of respect as healers and particularly midwives within their communities. The book Folks Do Get Born by Marie Campbell was compiled and organized by a group of granny midwives in rural Georgia and published in 1946. It is a firsthand account of the life and history of granny midwives in America.

Modern Homebirth

DURING THE LATE 1960S and early 1970s, things began to shift. Against the backdrop of free love, Vietnam, Kent State, and flower children, childbearing women gradually began to gather their own power. Change was slow in coming, as change often is. After all, life was so busy! The burgeoning Equal Rights movement, the withdrawal of our troops from Southeast Asia, not to mention just going to work and paying bills . . . it took time for mothers to realize that something so mundane, so normal, as having a baby could be so important.

And this is where some women realized that they had a problem. Women had been so disconnected from birth for so many years that the medicalized version was normal. In the 1950s, women went to the hospital, were put to sleep using scopolamine, and hours later, woke up a mother. In the 1970s, women went to the hospital and were given a spinal anesthetic or pudendal block (a technique used to numb the vaginal and rectal areas). Women went to the hospital. It was just what they did. Until it wasn’t.

No discussion of recent homebirthing would be complete without mentioning Ina May Gaskin. This unassuming English major left her home in California with a group of likeminded folks and caravanned across America in search of a place to build a community. They dreamed of a place where people could live close to the land, feeding themselves from the soil, worshipping as they saw fit, and birthing their babies into an atmosphere of love, respect, and joy. The group found their new home outside of Summertown, Tennessee, and in 1971 The Farm was born. Ina May received some rudimentary midwifery training during their journey, during which several pregnant women gave birth, so as the group settled into their new lives, she enlisted a local doctor to teach her more skills. This was the beginning.

In 1976 Ina May’s first book, Spiritual Midwifery, was published. Part childbirth manual, part birth-story anthology, this book was the first to unapologetically state that babies could be born safely and happily at home. It presented homebirth in an accessible way, using plain language and lots and lots of stories. It spoke to women in their own language, and women listened.

Spiritual Midwifery validated what many women were beginning to suspect: that perhaps they would be better off to feel the sensations and acknowledge that while birth hurt, it was also very powerful. This time in the history of birth was part of the tipping point when women expressed and claimed their power in society. Birth was intimately connected to self-perception, and entire new paradigms across westernized cultures bloomed out of this awareness. With power, women could determine their futures both personally and professionally. While seizing upon these ideas and experiences may have felt dangerous, some women were not afraid. They flipped their feathered hair defiantly, marched themselves right into their homes, and birthed their babies.

The Anatomy of Homebirth Today

MOTHERS AND MIDWIVES WHO partake in homebirth today have arrived here through the work of thousands of years of other mothers and midwives. Approximately 1 percent of all American babies are born outside of the hospital, and that number is growing every year.⁷ Homebirth is an old idea, but women have reclaimed and reinvented it. Midwives are back. They are educated, well trained, and full of energy for birth and all of the power it brings into the lives of the families they work with. So this brings us to the present day, with modern parents and modern midwives. Just who is birthing at home in America today? According to a study done in 1995, homebirthing mothers tend to have less formal education, identify as Caucasian, and are pregnant with their second or subsequent child. They are not likely to drink or smoke during pregnancy. They begin prenatal care later, and are less likely to do all routine testing. Additionally, their baby’s health is likely to be better than the average American baby’s.⁸

Today mothers over thirty still make up the majority of homebirthers, and they are extremely well versed in the language and technicalities of childbirth. Many of these women are professionals, with years of formal education behind them. They approach childbirth as they would any other project. It is not uncommon for these women to walk into their midwifery appointments carrying the latest studies, eager to discuss and debate them. Homebirth midwives love this! It’s a great opportunity to get to know what aspects of childbirth you are drawn to and to really personalize your care.

Even if they do not have advanced degrees or high-powered jobs, homebirth moms still tend to know an awful lot about having babies. These women know the birthing options in their community intimately, and have identified what setting and provider best matches their personal birthing philosophy. They also are aware of all their birthing resources, and feel like they can exercise any option that they might need.

By the time I decided to have children, I had attended many hospital births as a doula, and worked with families as a childbirth and lactation educator. I knew there had to be a better way. While I witnessed several beautiful, empowering births in that setting, I saw many more that started with educated, strong parents giving their birth experience over to the medical staff. I wanted my birth experience to be respected as the unique event that it was.

Also, I didn’t want to be treated like I was embarking on a journey fraught with risk and peril, even though I was a geezer at thirty-six years old.

My husband and I decided that a homebirth was the right choice for us. We live in a city with some great hospitals, and we figured if events required medical intervention, we were a short car ride, or even a walk, away. We ended up exercising that option with our first baby, who was born at the hospital after a long exhausting labor, but we had an amazing birth at home with our second.


Elisabeth’s story brings to light one of the most common reasons for homebirthing: the feeling that birth is not a medical event, and should not be treated as one.

In other areas of their lives, many homebirth families utilize alternative therapies such as naturopathic medicine, massage therapy, and acupuncture, while some families use strictly allopathic care for their medical needs. However, both see birth as natural, and potentially life changing, and seek out a location that can support this vision.

Anecdotally speaking, around 2003 I started to see high-powered (business-owner or upper-management), professional, thirty-five-plus-year-old clients seek homebirth in droves. Sometimes I would meet them, and watching them with their planners and heels (no flats for these fashion-forward mamas!), I thought I had landed in the twilight zone. But after really talking